Portuguese Water Dog Resource

Portuguese Water Dog

The Portuguese Water Dog, known as Cao de Agua (‘water dog’) in its homeland, is a strong swimmer and diver and is said to be able to shimmy up a rope in traditional seaman fashion. The breed was most numerous in Iberian peninsula seaports, where the dogs worked as members of the fishing boat’s crew retrieving fish and fishing gear, as guards and sometimes as rescue dogs. They were also used to carry messages from boat to boat and boat to shore; the dogs are reported to have performed this courier service for the Spanish during the Battle of Trafalgar.

The breed was brought to the U.S. in the late-1960s, and in 1972 a club was founded to promote its interests. Efforts have been so successful that more Portuguese Water Dogs exist in the U.S. than in Portugal. The breed is muscular, brave, loyal and obedient. Males measure from 20 to 23 inches at the shoulder and weigh from 42 to 60 pounds; females are proportionately smaller. One coat variety is long, wavy and loose; the other is short, thick and curly. Both are classified as single and non-shedding and require grooming about three times a week. Colors are black, white, various shades of brown; black with white or brown with white. Adult coats are customarily clipped in either the lion or working retriever pattern. The breed is good with children and is an ideal choice for the water sports enthusiast who can give it daily exercise and a home with a yard.

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Breed Details

Country of Origin:
Medium Dog Breed
Black, white, brown or a combination of these colors.

Two coat types wavy (long, wavy and loose) or curly (short, thick and curly.)


Brush three times a week. Clip as needed, four to six times a year.

Life Expectancy:
10 to14 years
AKC Group:
Working Group
UKC Group:
Gun Dog
17 to 23 inches at the shoulder
35 to 60 pounds
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Companion, water trials.